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Urbanscapes: Promoting The Arts Through Kuala Lumpur


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As the fiasco of Kuala Lumpur branding itself as “A City of Contrast and Diversity” that is “Exciting, Surprising, Enticing” overwhelmed public interest, Urbanscapes did what the people responsible of the rebranding should have been doing – say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Urbanscapes, one of the longest-running creative arts festivals in Malaysia, decided to go back to where it started, in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Kuala Lumpur may be small when placed beside the major cities around the world, but very rarely do people ever get to experience the “contrast and diversity” this city has to offer. And Urbanscapes offered a reason to do just that.

On the 23rd of April, just 2 days before the KL branding logo was announced, Urbanscapes “surprised” people by stretching their event to 3 weeks (from their usual 2-day event) and spread it across the city of Kuala Lumpur (in contrary to their usual single venue event). They offered people the chance to experience the “excitements” Kuala Lumpur has to offer, and “enticed” them to explore the city through the creative arts of both local and international artists.

And whether inadvertently or intentionally, Urbanscapes had just promoted their brand and their city, at the same time.

Pre-Launch @ Kuala Lumpur

“The Entire City is your playground”

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On the 9th and 10th of April, Urbanscapes organized a treasure hunt. There were 8 golden tickets hidden in mystery locations around Kuala Lumpur. By following their social media channels and figuring out the locations based on the clues they gave, you can win yourself a golden ticket that gives you access to ALL of their shows in KL Live.

Urbanscapes House @ Medan Pasar

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On the 23rd of April, Urbanscapes had launched. And this was where most of the fun was held – Medan Pasar’s heritage OCBC Bank art deco building was used as their headquarters, which subsequently received the name: Urbanscapes House. For the whole three weeks of Urbanscapes, it opened from 11am to 7pm and featured all kinds of fun, exciting activities for you to discover. You name the art, they had it.

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From the variety of fashion and retail markets every day, to the stand-up comedies and movie screenings, to art installations and crafting workshops. They even had a performance out at Medan Pasar for their closing ceremony that was filled with comedy, music, and art, for all to enjoy.

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Art Installations @ Various LRT Stations

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Can’t find the time to go to an art gallery? No problem. As long as you’re a regular LRT hopper, Urbanscapes has got you covered. Notice the art installations in various LRT stations? Those were the results of a collective effort. Through Urbanscapes, the public art initiative was backed by Malaysian crowdbacking platform, Webe community, and is part of the “Arts on the Move” project by ThinkCity and RapidKL.

KL Live @ Jalan Sultan Ismail

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The international headliners for Urbanscapes took centre stage at Kuala Lumpur’s fastest growing entertainment venue – KL LIVE. The multi-purpose entertainment duplex welcomed the psychedelic band Tame Impala, on the day it launched, followed by Rudimental on the following weekend, and M83 on the next.

Merdekarya @ Petaling Jaya

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The local independent acts held sessions throughout the 3 weeks of Urbanscapes at Merdekarya – home to some of the best independent Malaysian crafts. From Malaysian books, music and other random cool stuff, Merdekarya offers a funky lounge experience. Their grungy interior was even built by themselves, from discarded wooden pallets and spindles.

The KL Journal @ Jalan Sultan Ismail

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The Kuala Lumpur Journal hotel was taken over by Urbanscapes, for a day. Complete with a barbeque, pool party, and numerous DJs performances, all lead  up to an exclusive Rudimental after-party DJ set that lasted from midnight all the way to dawn. Urbanscapes duly took the city staycation concept up a notch.

Here are the other venues that were involved in Urbanscapes:

Gaslight Café & Music @ Damansara Heights

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Como @ Jalan Tun Razak

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League of Captains @ Jalan Doraisamy

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Live Fact @ Taman Danau Desa

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Under 9 @ Jalan Bukit Nanas

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The Bee @ Publika

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Black Box @ Publika

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Urbanscapes has evolved, from 1,000 festival goers to 18,000 and from a one-day festival to a three-week festival. And they have done so by also promoting the city they were born in, together with the people and locations they grew up with.

While the rebranding efforts of Kuala Lumpur was received in a negative light, Urbanscapes inadvertently portrayed Kuala Lumpur as what it was rebranded as.

By utilising these locations, one could clearly see the diversity and contrast Kuala Lumpur has to offer. They even made it exciting, surprising, and enticing. But they didn’t need to spell it out. They showed it. And that was not the only thing they did. They also proved that you can promote your brand’s voice, and your city, both at the same time. Let’s hope they make it bigger in the years to come.

How would you promote your brand through your city?
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